Interview: A Q&A with Laure Briard
Rising Toulouse, France-based singer/songwriter Laure Briard has had a highly uncommon path to professional music: Briard bounced around several different interests and passes, including studying literature and criminology, and even doing some acting before concentrating on music full-time in 2013.
Briard initially signed with Tricatel Records, who released her debut EP. After the EP’s release, Briard met Juilen Gasc and Eddy Cramps. And began working on what would become her full-length debut, 2015’s Révélation. Inspired by Françoise Hardy, Margo Guryan and Vashti Bunyan, Révélation featured modern and poetic lyricism. She then signed with Midnight Special Records, who released her sophomore album, 2016’s Sur la Piste de Danse.
Since Sur la Pisa de Danse, Briard’s work has increasingly been influenced by Bossa nova: 2018’s Coração Louco, featured lyrics written and sung in Portuguese — and a guest spot from acclaimed Brazilian JOVM mainstays and Latin Grammy Award nominated act Boogarins. 2019’s Un peu plus d’amour s’il vous plâit, which was released through Michel Records in Canada, Midnight Special Records in Europe and Burger Records here in the States continued Briard’s ongoing love affair with Bossa nova and Brazilian music.
Released last week through Michel Records in North America, Dinosaur City Records in Australia and Midnight Special Records in Europe, the Toulouse-based singer/songwriter’s latest effort Eu Voo sees Briard continuing her successful collaboration with Boogarins, as well as with her longtime collaborators Vincent Guyot, a.k.a. Octopus and Marius Duflot. Over the past year or so I’ve managed to write about two of the EP’s singles:
- EP title track “Eu Voo,” 60s Scott Walker-like orchestral psych pop meets 70s AM radio rock-like take on Bossa nova, featuring Briard’s ethereal vocals cooing in Portuguese, twinkling Rhodes, shimmering guitars and jazz-fusion that evokes the swooning euphoria of reuniting with a long-lost love.
- “Supertrama,” which continues in a similar path as its predecessor — 60s Scott Walker-like orchestral psych pop meeting 70s AM radio rock featuring twinkling piano, shuffling jazz-like drumming, a sinuous bass line, a regal horn arrangement, angular bursts of guitar and a soaring hook within an expansive yet breezy song arrangement. But just underneath the breezy surface, the song evokes a familiar bittersweet ache.
In this edition of the Q&A, I chatted with Laure Briard about a number of different topics including her hometown’s favorite spots to eat and see music, how she’s been keeping busy during pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, her unusually winding path to a music career and much more.
Check it out below.
WRH: I’ve been to Europe twice (Holland and Germany) but sadly, I’ve never been to France. I hope to see France – after all of this passes, of course. But for this question let’s imagine the pre-COVID world: I arrive in Toulouse. What would I need to see? Where should I eat? Where would I catch local music?
Laure Briard: Ahah! There is a lot to see it’s a very nice town. You can just walk in the streets and look at the architecture. My favorite places are Le quartier St Sernin with the Basilique, la Dalbade. You should eat at Señor Tacos (ahah) very good Mexican restaurant. About places where you can listen to local music, there are Les Pavillons Sauvages, Le Ravelin, Le Taquin for example.
WRH: The COVID-19 pandemic has managed to put all of our plans and desires on an indefinite hold. You’ve worked on your latest EP, the recently released Eu Voo (more on that later!) but how have you been occupying your time? Have you picked up any new or unusual hobbies? Are you binge-watching anything?
LB: In September I moved to Seignosse, it’s very close to the ocean. So every day I go to the beach and walk while listening to music, looking at the waves. Otherwise, I try to write songs, I read, and yeah lately I watched Le bureau des légendes. It’s a French TV show. I was very addicted!
WRH: You’ve had an unusual path to music: You’ve bounced around and pursued a number of different interests and passions — you studied literature and criminology, and even tried to act at one point before getting into music. Have these various pursuits, career interests and professional twists and turns influenced your work at all? When did you know that music was your thing?
LB: I suppose that it had an impact on my personality so yes it influences my work. I can’t tell how exactly; it’s an abstraction. I knew that music was my thing very late. I was working in a high school for several years and one day I decided to stop and to give all my time to music. I was around 33 years old.
WRH: Who are your influences?
WRH: Who are you listening to right now?
WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you?
LB: It’s always a tricky question to me…I go in so many directions that it’s hard to summarise in few words. So I would say: poprockpsychbossayéyé ahah!!
WRH: After the release of your sophomore album, your work and sound has been increasingly influenced by and draws from Bossa nova. How did you get into Bossa nova?
LB: I’ve been a huge fan of bossa and tropicalism for years! A friend of mine introduced me to Vinicius De Moraes and Astrud Gilberto by lending me his iPod. I completely fell in love and I started to dig stuff on my own over and over. Then I met this band Boogarins when we were playing at SXSW. We became friends and they helped me to come to Brazil first to play and then for the recordings. Providential encounter!
WRH: Did you know Portuguese before you started recording Bossa nova? How many languages do you know?
LB: No, I didn’t know this language… I learned at the same time I wrote. I only speak English, but not so well.
WRH: I first learned of you and your work through your cover of Sessa’s “Grandeza.” For me, your cover and the original are a perfect example of Bossa nova in my mind. They both have that wistful nostalgia for a past we can’t ever get back – whether it’s our innocence, a lost love, a place we knew and loved that’s been changed or something else. Perhaps because of the pandemic, I thought of concerts, sporting events, gatherings with friends and family, sitting inside bars and chatting with strangers and the like. So, what was about the song that drew you to it? And do you know what Sessa’s response to it was?
LB: Thank you 🙂
We have mutual friends with Sessa. They introduced me to his music that I didn’t know. I listened to the song “Grandeza.” I was completely amazed by the sound, the vibe. I immediately wanted to do something with this song. At the end of the recording of Eu Voo I spent few days in Sao Paulo, and I had the chance to meet him! He seems happy and enthusiastic about this cover idea.
WRH: Eu Voo sees you continuing an ongoing and critically applauded collaboration Latin Grammy-nominated, JOVM mainstays Boogarins and your longtime collaborators Vincent Guyot, a.k.a. Octopus and Marius Duflot. How did the collaboration with Boogarins come about? How was it like to work with them on material? How collaborative were the recording sessions?
LB: The collaboration came after our meeting and my first tour in Brazil. I started to write songs in Portuguese as a challenge then I sent them to them, and they liked it. Thanks to my label Midnight Special Records and people in Brazil like Ana Garcia (and of course Benke from Boogarins) we managed to organize a studio session to record my first EP Coracao Louco in 2018. And then Eu Voo in 2020. In these two cases, I sent demos and we recorded live, doing all of the arrangements together.
WRH: You recorded Eu Voo in São Paulo’s Dissenso Studio last January. How was it like to record the EP in Brazil and in that studio? And knowing everything that happened, does that give the EP’s material an even more bittersweet feel to you?
LB: It was like a dream really. In this wonderful studio with wonderful people. Everybody got along so well; it was the perfect crew! I do feel very nostalgic of the recording session, especially with the pandemic occurring now. I feel like it was ages ago as if it was in a different time. I try to put things into perspective but it’s not easy sometimes.
WRH: According press to notes Eu Voo’s material can traces its origins back to when you had returned from a 2017 trip to Brazil. Some months later, you had suffered through an illness – pneumopathy – and was taking Tramadol for pain and other symptoms. For me, the EP’s material is imbued with the aching longing and nostalgia for that special place that changed your life. As I listened to the EP there’s this subtle acknowledgement of mortality, that all of this is a fleeting fever dream. That’s my sense of it at least. How much did your illness inform or inspire the EP’s material?
LB:I was sick while composing my first EP, so I don’t really know how much it did influence it or not.
WRH: Sonically, Eu Voo’s material reminds me of Scott Walker, AM Radio Rock and psych pop. Did that influence the material at all?
LB: I don’t know about Scott Walker; but I’ll listen to it!
WRH: “Eu Voo” is one of my favorite songs on the EP by the way. If I remember it correctly, before you recorded the song, you decided that you should speed the tempo up and that you wanted the arrangements to be punchier and catchier. What inspired that decision?
LB: Yes, I did! We had previously recorded this song for my first EP, but we didn’t have time to complete it to a satisfactory level. So I really had the necessary time-lapse to think about how I wanted it to sound and its artistic direction. I felt like the song had really a dance potential. That’s why I went with this idea of the catchy up-tempo. I suggested it to my collaborators, and they all agreed.
WRH: You worked with a longtime collaborator NORMA for the playfully surreal visual for “Eu Voo.” How did the concept for the video come about?
LB: It was Norma who had the idea to shoot in the desert and also for the wings! I put all my trust in her vision. Her ideas are always bright, creatives, and very much D.I.Y oriented. So, she came to me and mentioned the wings. We were influenced by Arizona Dream. We have a lot of references in common, so we get along easily. She also lives on the Atlantic coast and the desert where we filmed, Les Bardenas, is only a couple of hours away. It was the perfect plan!
WRH: “Supertrama” sees you collaborating with Giovanni Cidreira, who you met through Boogarins. How was it like to work with him?
LB: We did a long-distance collaboration. I sent him a guitar melody I had written and asked him if he would like to write the lyrics. About a week later, he sent me the same melody played on the piano with some beautiful words. We did the arrangements live when I came to Sa
o Paulo to record in the studio with my team. I would have loved for him to be there with us, but he couldn’t be there, unfortunately. He completely trusted us with the song.
WRH: Now that the EP’s released, what’s next for you?
LB: I wanna go on tour all over the world!!!